Welcome to MSF Field Research

 

MSF is known for its humanitarian medical work, but it has also produced important research based on its field experience. It has published articles in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and they have often changed clinical practice and been used for humanitarian advocacy. These articles are available for free, in full text - no login required. We sincerely thank the publishers for their permission to archive on this site.

 

Published Research and Commentary
Conference Abstracts
Programme Descriptions
Research Resources

 

  • Measuring the unknown: an estimator and simulation study for assessing case reporting during epidemics

    Jarvis, CI; Gimma, A; Finger, F; Morris, TP; Thompson, JA; de Waroux, OlP; Edmunds, WJ; Funk, S; Jombart, T (bioRxiv, 2021-12-17)
    The fraction of cases reported, known as ‘reporting’, is a key performance indicator in an outbreak response, and an essential factor to consider when modelling epidemics and assessing their impact on populations. Unfortunately, its estimation is inherently difficult, as it relates to the part of an epidemic which is, by definition, not observed. We introduce a simple statistical method for estimating reporting, initially developed for the response to Ebola in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 2018-2020. This approach uses transmission chain data typically gathered through case investigation and contact tracing, and uses the proportion of investigated cases with a known, reported infector as a proxy for reporting. Using simulated epidemics, we study how this method performs for different outbreak sizes and reporting levels. Results suggest that our method has low bias, reasonable precision, and despite sub-optimal coverage, usually provides estimates within close range (5-10%) of the true value. Being fast and simple, this method could be useful for estimating reporting in real-time in settings where person-to-person transmission is the main driver of the epidemic, and where case investigation is routinely performed as part of surveillance and contact tracing activities.
  • Decentralised hepatitis C testing and treatment in rural Cambodia: evaluation of a simplified service model integrated in an existing public health system.

    Zhang, M; O'Keefe, D; Craig, J; Samley, K; Bunreth, V; Jolivet, P; Balkan, S; Marquardt, T; Dousset, JP; Le Paih, M (Elsevier, 2021-03-18)
    Background: Direct-acting antiviral treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) has provided the opportunity for simplified models of care delivered in decentralised settings by non-specialist clinical personnel. However, in low-income and middle-income countries, increasing overall access to HCV care remains an ongoing issue, particularly for populations outside of urban centres. We therefore aimed to implement a simplified model of HCV care via decentralised health services within a rural health operational district in Battambang province, Cambodia. Methods: The study cohort included adult residents (≥18 years) of the health operational district of Moung Russei who were voluntarily screened at 13 local health centres. Serology testing was done by a rapid diagnostic test using SD Bioline HCV (SD Bioline HCV, Standard Diagnostics, South Korea) with capillary blood. HCV viral load testing was done by GeneXpert (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA, USA). Viraemic patients (HCV viral load ≥10 IU/mL) received pretreatment assessment by a general physician and minimal treatment evaluation tests at the health operational district referral hospital. Viraemic patients who did not have additional complications received all HCV care follow-up at the local health centres, provided by nursing staff, and patients who had decompensated cirrhosis, previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral, HBV co-infection, or other comorbidities requiring observation continued receiving care at the referral hospital with a general physician. Patients deemed eligible for treatment were prescribed oral sofosbuvir (400 mg) and daclatasvir (60 mg) once a day for 12 weeks, or 24 weeks for patients with decompensated cirrhosis or those previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral. HCV cure was defined as sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment (HCV viral load <10 IU/mL). Patients were assessed for serious and non-serious adverse events at any time between treatment initiation and 12 weeks post-treatment testing. Findings: Between March 12, 2018, and Jan 18, 2019, 10 425 residents (ie, 7·6% of the estimated 136 571 adults in the health operational district of Moung Russei) were screened. Of those patients screened, the median age was 44 years (IQR 31-55) and 778 (7·5%) were HCV-antibody positive. 761 (97·8%) of 778 antibody-positive patients received HCV viral load testing, and 540 (71·0%) of those tested were HCV viraemic. Among these 540 patients, linkage to treatment and follow-up care was high, with 533 (98·7%) attending a baseline consultation at the HCV clinic, of whom 530 (99·4%) initiated treatment. 485 (91·5%) of 530 patients who initiated treatment received follow-up at a health centre and 45 (8·5%) were followed up at the referral hospital. Of the 530 patients who initiated direct-acting antiviral therapy, 515 (97·2%) completed treatment. Subsequently, 466 (90·5%) of 515 patients completed follow-up, and 459 (98·5%) of 466 achieved a sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment. Two (0·4%) adverse events (fatigue [n=1] and stomach upset [n=1]) and five (0·9%) serious adverse events (infection [n=2], cardiovascular disease [n=1], and panic attack [n=1], with data missing for one of the causes of serious adverse events) were reported among patients who initiated treatment. All serious adverse events were deemed to be unrelated to therapy. Interpretation: This pilot project showed that a highly simplified, decentralised model of HCV care can be integrated within a rural public health system in a low-income or middle-income country, while maintaining high patient retention, treatment efficacy, and safety. The project delivered care via accessible, decentralised primary health centres, using non-specialist clinical staff, thereby enhancing the efficient use of limited resources and maximising the potential to test and treat individuals living with HCV infection.
  • Decentralized hepatitis C testing and treatment in rural Cambodia: evaluation of a simplified service model integrated in an existing public health system

    Zhang, M; O'Keefe, D; Craig, J; Samley, K; Bunreth, V; Jolivet, P; Balkan, S; Marquardt, T; Dousset, JP; Le Paih, M (Elsevier, 2021-03-18)
    Background Direct-acting antiviral treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) has provided the opportunity for simplified models of care delivered in decentralised settings by non-specialist clinical personnel. However, in low-income and middle-income countries, increasing overall access to HCV care remains an ongoing issue, particularly for populations outside of urban centres. We therefore aimed to implement a simplified model of HCV care via decentralised health services within a rural health operational district in Battambang province, Cambodia. Methods The study cohort included adult residents (≥18 years) of the health operational district of Moung Russei who were voluntarily screened at 13 local health centres. Serology testing was done by a rapid diagnostic test using SD Bioline HCV (SD Bioline HCV, Standard Diagnostics, South Korea) with capillary blood. HCV viral load testing was done by GeneXpert (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA, USA). Viraemic patients (HCV viral load ≥10 IU/mL) received pretreatment assessment by a general physician and minimal treatment evaluation tests at the health operational district referral hospital. Viraemic patients who did not have additional complications received all HCV care follow-up at the local health centres, provided by nursing staff, and patients who had decompensated cirrhosis, previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral, HBV co-infection, or other comorbidities requiring observation continued receiving care at the referral hospital with a general physician. Patients deemed eligible for treatment were prescribed oral sofosbuvir (400 mg) and daclatasvir (60 mg) once a day for 12 weeks, or 24 weeks for patients with decompensated cirrhosis or those previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral. HCV cure was defined as sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment (HCV viral load <10 IU/mL). Patients were assessed for serious and non-serious adverse events at any time between treatment initiation and 12 weeks post-treatment testing. Findings Between March 12, 2018, and Jan 18, 2019, 10 425 residents (ie, 7·6% of the estimated 136 571 adults in the health operational district of Moung Russei) were screened. Of those patients screened, the median age was 44 years (IQR 31–55) and 778 (7·5%) were HCV-antibody positive. 761 (97·8%) of 778 antibody-positive patients received HCV viral load testing, and 540 (71·0%) of those tested were HCV viraemic. Among these 540 patients, linkage to treatment and follow-up care was high, with 533 (98·7%) attending a baseline consultation at the HCV clinic, of whom 530 (99·4%) initiated treatment. 485 (91·5%) of 530 patients who initiated treatment received follow-up at a health centre and 45 (8·5%) were followed up at the referral hospital. Of the 530 patients who initiated direct-acting antiviral therapy, 515 (97·2%) completed treatment. Subsequently, 466 (90·5%) of 515 patients completed follow-up, and 459 (98·5%) of 466 achieved a sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment. Two (0·4%) adverse events (fatigue [n=1] and stomach upset [n=1]) and five (0·9%) serious adverse events (infection [n=2], cardiovascular disease [n=1], and panic attack [n=1], with data missing for one of the causes of serious adverse events) were reported among patients who initiated treatment. All serious adverse events were deemed to be unrelated to therapy. Interpretation This pilot project showed that a highly simplified, decentralised model of HCV care can be integrated within a rural public health system in a low-income or middle-income country, while maintaining high patient retention, treatment efficacy, and safety. The project delivered care via accessible, decentralised primary health centres, using non-specialist clinical staff, thereby enhancing the efficient use of limited resources and maximising the potential to test and treat individuals living with HCV infection.
  • Coding-Complete Genome Sequence and Phylogenetic Relatedness of a SARS-CoV-2 Strain Detected in March 2020 in Cameroon.

    Njouom, R; Sadueh-Mba, SA; Tchatchueng, J; Diagne, MM; Dia, N; Tagnouokam, PAN; Boum, Y; Hamadou, A; Esso, L; Faye, O; et al. (American Society for Microbiology, 2021-03-11)
    We describe the coding-complete genome sequence of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) strain obtained in Cameroon from a 58-year-old French patient who arrived from France on 24 February 2020. Phylogenetic analysis showed that this virus, named hCoV-19/Cameroon/1958-CMR-YAO/2020, belongs to lineage B.1.5 and is closely related to an isolate from France.
  • Challenging drug-resistant TB treatment journey for children, adolescents and their care-givers: A qualitative study.

    Das, M; Mathur, T; Ravi, S; Meneguim, AC; Iyer, A; Mansoor, H; Kalon, S; Hossain, FN; Acharya, S; Ferlazzo, G; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2021-03-10)
    Background: Childhood multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) still affects around 25000 children every year across the globe. Though the treatment success rates for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in children are better than adults, children and adolescents face unique hurdles during DR-TB (MDR-TB, Pre-XDR TB and XDR-TB) treatment. This study aimed to understand the patients, guardians and healthcare providers' perspectives about DR-TB treatment journey of patients and caregivers. Methods: This is a qualitative study involving in depth-interviews of purposively selected adolescents (n = 6), patients guardians (for children and adolescents, n = 5) and health care providers (n = 8) of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic, Mumbai, India. In-depth face to face interviews were conducted in English or Hindi language using interview guides during September-November 2019. The interviews were audio-recorded after consent. Thematic network analysis was used to summarize textual data. ATLAS.ti (version 7) was used for analysis. Result: The age of adolescent patients ranged from 15-19 years and four were female. Five guardians (of three child and two adolescent patients) and eight healthcare providers (including clinicians- 2, DOT providers-2, counselors-2 and programme managers-2) were interviewed. The overarching theme of the analysis was: Challenging DR-TB treatment journey which consisted of four sub-themes: 1) physical-trauma, 2) emotional-trauma, 3) unavailable social-support and 4) non-adapted healthcare services. Difficulties in compounding of drugs were noted for children while adolescents shared experiences around disruption in social life due to disease and treatment. Most of the patients and caregivers experienced treatment fatigue and burnout during the DR-TB treatment. Participants during interviews gave recommendations to improve care. Discussion: The TB programmes must consider the patient and family as one unit when designing the package of care for paediatric DR-TB. Child and adolescent friendly services (paediatric-formulations, age-specific counselling tools and regular interaction with patients and caregivers) will help minimizing burnout in patients and caregivers.

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